Here’s an oldie but a goodie. I probably took these pictures about ten years ago (Update: it was almost nine-April 15, 2012). I was just driving through Moline, spotted this sitting in front of a repair shop, and mentally noted its location, as it was a cold, clammy rainy day. This one was among the last of the Nova line: A 1979, last call for Novas. Unless you count the Mini-Me Corolla clone version from the mid to late ’80s.
The last full redesign of the Nova had been in 1975, with basic cheapskate lovers’ Nova, nicer Nova Custom and tony LN (for Luxury Nova) versions. Not much changed between then and 1978, but for model year ’79, the aforementioned square headlamps were added, along with a new grille.
1979 Novas were available as a basic hatchback, sedan and coupe models, plus a plusher Custom sedan and coupe. There was also a largely decorative Rally Equipment option package, with slotted steel wheels, chrome trim rings, and triple stripes on the sides and trunk lid. The luxury Concours version (’76s shown above), which replaced the LN in 1976, meant to compete with the Ford Granada Ghia and Mercury Monarch, but disappeared after 1977. However, many of its plush features moved to the Nova Custom in 1978, including the wide chrome fender moldings and optional Cabriolet landau top.
Engine choices were the tried-and-true 250 inline six and a 305 V8 with a two-barrel carb. A 350 V8 was also available in California and high-altitude states. The basic Nova was the most popular by a wide margin.
Out of 97,721 sold, over 82,000 were standard Novas. There were not many takers for the Custom, with only 7,529 coupes and 7,690 sedans made. Our featured car, a Custom coupe, sold for $4,164 with the six and $4,399 with the V8.
I spotted this Nova a few days before I took the pictures seen here, and thought it was a Concours until I saw the front and with the square headlights. It was fairly clean for a ’79 surviving in the salty Midwest-other than the typical rust bubbling up under that padded vinyl toupee.
It even had a CB radio. Its basic Chevyness was confirmed with the basic black steering wheel and column.
Despite the short model year (production ended in 11/78), Chevy moved nearly 100,000 Novas in 1979. The new front wheel drive Citation was waiting in the wings, and was supposed to be the way of the future for compact cars. Technically it was, though early Citations had quite a few well-publicized problems, the worst likely being their tendency to lock up the rear brakes.
But before all that, the Nova stood one more time as the traditional compact Chevy.